Automated Educative Nudges to Reduce Missed Assignments in College

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Questions?

If you have questions, ideas, or concerns, please let us know by emailing help@boost.education.

Overview

What is Boost?

Boost is a mobile app that facilitates student engagement. Boost aggregates information about a student’s schoolwork from the learning management system (LMS), and uses this information to deliver timely, personalized, automated notifications and interventions based on the student’s current learning activities. Principle among these, Boost reminds students when they haven’t submitted anything for an imminent deadline, and additionally, Boost also delivers periodic positive encouragement messages, notifies students of instructor announcements and course calendar events, and provides easy access to the Canvas to-do list. In this way, Boost unifies the learning experience, providing a consolidated viewport and toolkit for current online learning activities, while also empowering students to stay engaged in their coursework through constructive messaging and support.

Does Canvas already have similar features?

No, Canvas does not remind students about upcoming assignment deadlines, nor does Canvas provide proactive alerts when a student hasn’t submitted anything for these assignments. For students, Canvas notifications are triggered when there is a change to a due date, a grade, a grading policy, course content, and others, but there is no notification for upcoming deadlines.

One of Boost’s additional advantages is that notification preferences can be customized for different courses. Canvas’s notification preferences are set by a user, and apply equally to all of the user’s enrolled courses. Boosts can be turned on or off for individual courses, and furthermore, the timing of these Boosts can be customized for individual courses.

Courses available in Boost

When students download and access Boost on a mobile device, they will see all published courses that they are enrolled in as students for the current semester and can set their notification preferences accordingly. Instructors do not need to enable Boost or to perform any action for students to start receiving notifications from their courses.

Notification types

Due soon

This notification is triggered if an assignment is unsubmitted and the deadline is approaching. The timing of this notification can be customized between 2 to 24 hours before the assignment is due. Students can customize the timing of this notification within their notification preferences for a course. Note that not all assignments trigger the “due soon” notification (see: Eligible assignments).

Due soon notifications are grouped per course, so if multiple assignments are due for the same course in the same time window, they will be lumped into a single notification rather than multiple.

Daily upcoming assignment digest

This notification is sent once a day and includes a list of all upcoming assignments due in the next 24 hours, regardless of whether the assignment has been submitted or not. Some assignments do not trigger the “due soon” notification (see: Eligible assignments), and the daily assignment digest is intended to be a catch-all for assignments to ensure a student is aware of all upcoming due dates.

The daily digest notification can be customized per course, allowing a student to receive digest notifications for all, some, or no courses.

Submission received

This notification is triggered after an assignment has been submitted. It includes encouragement and contextualized praise to motivate students and help students to put their work into the larger context of reaching their academic goals. There is a maximum of one notification per course per week, to ensure the number of notifications does not become excessive.

Upcoming calendar event

This notification is triggered 2 hours before an event on the Canvas calendar for a course.

Planner items

This notification is triggered to remind a student in advance of a due date for a Canvas planner item. Canvas planner items can be added from the Boost application and the timing of the reminder can be customized to be 1-24 hours before the due date. For more information, see: Using the planner.

Weekly planner reminder

This notification is sent once a week to remind students to plan out their work for the upcoming week by adding planner items and reminders within the Boost application.

Announcement

This notification is triggered after a new announcement is posted in a course.

Note that this notification type is available both in Boost and the Canvas Student app. Boost will allow students to customize their notification preferences for announcement notifications per course, whereas Canvas requires students to turn announcement notifications on or off for all courses. Students using both applications may want to enable/disable notifications for announcements in one app or the other, depending on personal preferences.

Eligible assignments

Assignment daily digest notifications can be sent regardless of assignment type or submission status. The only requirements are that the assignment be published, open to students, and have a due date in the future. However, assignment due notifications are narrower in scope, because not all assignment types provide sufficient data in Canvas in order for Boost to intelligently notify students about a potentially missed deadline.

For an assignment due notification to be sent, assignments must additionally:

For students

Access Boost

The Boost app for mobile devices can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store.

Logging in

When opening the app for the first time, select the institution where you are enrolled and then tap the button to authenticate with Canvas. Please note that this link must be opened with the browser and not with the Canvas Student app. The Canvas Student app does not support third party authentication and the process will fail if opened with the app.

You will be required to login to Canvas, authorize Boost to have permission to act on your behalf, and then you will be redirected back to the app and your enrollments will load. Please note that the browser must not be exited during this process, or the authentication process will abort.

Course notification preferences

In the “Preferences” tab in the bottom menu of the app, notification preferences can be adjusted on a course-by-course basis. By default, notifications are turned off for a course and must be enabled. All current enrollments in active, published courses will be listed.

Once a course has been enabled, all notification types are enabled by default. To change preferences for a course, tap the cog icon next to the course. All notification types can be enabled or disabled, except for the “assignment due” notification, which can be adjusted to be 2-24 hours before the due date for a course’s assignments. (The default value is 4 hours.)

The weekly planner reminder is not specific to any individual course and can be disabled under the “general notifications” section.

Receiving notifications

Notifications may not be received immediately if a device is powered off or in power-saving mode. A notification is marked as unread in the Boost app until it is tapped on and viewed.

All notifications received are listed in the “Boosts” tab in the bottom menu of the app. Notifications can be filtered by course using the dropdown at the top of the screen.

Viewing Canvas assignments, announcements, etc. from Boost

When viewing a received notification, related assets in Canvas such as assignments, announcements, etc. are linked and can be viewed by tapping the “View Assignment” (etc.) button. If the Canvas Student app is installed, the asset will be opened in that app. Otherwise, it will be opened in the browser.

It is recommended but not required to install the Canvas Student app to view related assets, as this method is generally the most convenient. Opening links in the browser may require an additional login if the user is not already logged into Canvas in the browser.

Notification ratings

Notifications can be rated between 1 and 5 stars, and additional text feedback can be provided. This feedback is helpful for Boost’s developers to continue to improve the service for students based on student feedback.

Using the planner

Overview

The Boost planner allows students to make personalized tasks and reminders for themselves, tied to Canvas courses and assignments. These tasks are also integrated with the Canvas To-Do list. You can select from a list of recommended to-do items or create customized tasks, set a target due date for these tasks, mark tasks as complete, and customize the timing of reminder notifications for these tasks. A planner item is only visible to the person who created it; it will not be visible to the instructor or to other students in the class.

Create a planner item:

  1. Access the Boost Planner by tapping the Planner icon in the lower right corner of the Boost screen.
  2. Tap the blue hovering + icon in the lower right corner of the Planner screen.
  3. Create a title for the planner item. Tap the lightbulb icon to pick from a list of common tasks, or create your own. Common tasks can be customized after being selected.
  4. Fill in additional details of the Planner item. Only current course enrollments are visible in the course selection menu. After selecting a course, you may also specify a Canvas assignment to link to the planner item.
  5. Select how long before the due date you’d like to receive a reminder for the task. If you mark the task as complete before the scheduled reminder, Boost will withhold the reminder.
  6. Tap Save to finish creating the planner item and return to the Planner screen.

To Edit or delete a planner item:

  1. Access the Boost Planner by tapping the Planner icon in the lower right corner of the Boost screen.
  2. Scroll to find the desired planner item, and tap it to make changes.

You can also add and edit planner items in Canvas as To-Do items.

Planner items in Canvas

The Boost Planner is integrated with the Canvas To-Do list. Tasks created in the Boost Planner will be visible in the Canvas To-Do List Sidebar and the Canvas List View Dashboard . Similarly, custom tasks created in the Canvas To-Do List will appear in the Boost Planner.

Note: if a planner item is created, edited, or marked as complete within Canvas, the change in Canvas will not automatically update Boost’s notification settings. Open the Boost app on your mobile device to immediately sync Canvas To-Do items and Boost Planner items. After being synced, uncompleted To-Do items created within Canvas will trigger reminder notifications two hours before the planner item’s due date.

Deactivating or revoking a device

A device can be deactivated to log out of the application and stop receiving notifications. To do so, tap the question mark icon in the top right of the screen to access the help menu, and tap the “deactivate” option.

If a device has been lost or stolen, a device can be revoked by opening the Boost external tool in the left navigation of a Canvas course where Boost has been included.

For instructors

Instructor-generated notifications

Instructors can trigger Boost notifications by sending an announcement to their course, or by scheduling an event in the course calendar. Students will receive corresponding push notifications according to their notification preferences for that course.

Communicating with students

Boosts are not intended to preempt or replace an instructor’s preferred methods of communicating with students. For example, some instructors use the Remind app, the “Message students who…” feature of the Canvas gradebook, or other methods for delivering just-in-time notifications to their students. For students enrolled with these instructors, Boost notifications might be redundant, and individual students can mute the Boost notifications for these courses if they choose to do so.

In the current Canvas ecosystem, students are in control of their notification preferences. Instructors cannot change or modify a student’s elected notification settings in Canvas, and the same is true for Boost. If instructors curbed the notifications that students tried to activate in Boost, it would likely result in an inconsistent and confusing user experience for students.

Analytics

The Boost LTI tool provides faculty members with aggregate data about the number of students who have enabled Boost notifications in the course, as well as the number of notifications that have been sent for individual assignments, announcements, and events in the course.

Questions?

If you have questions, ideas, or concerns, please let us know by emailing help@boost.education.

Now everyone can pass every class.